The NCAA has ruled on Michigan's practice time violations, and the punishment can be viewed as little more than a slap on the wrist.
The NCAA added a third year of probation to the Wolverines' self-imposed penalty and ordered coach Rich Rodriguez to attend a rules seminar (Oh, snap!). But otherwise, Michigan escaped without any further bruises after being accused of five major violations related to excessive or improper practice and workout times. The NCAA agreed with the school that Rodriguez did not fail to promote an atmosphere of compliance, a charge that, if proved, could have resulted in more severe penalties.
So is this good news for West Virginia?
The Mountaineers, of course, have their own NCAA case to deal with, much of it stemming from the Rodriguez era and covering mostly the same ground as that of the Michigan allegations. Current head coach Bill Stewart was implicated as well in the allegations, which included such misdeeds as having unauthorized personnel work with players and perform coaching duties.
The NCAA is one of the most inconsistent and unpredictable organizations in the history of mankind, so to say that it will rule exactly the same in the West Virginia case as it did in the Michigan one would be to give it too much credit for being rational. But the Mountaineers should definitely follow the Michigan model here. The Wolverines admitted most of the allegations and slapped themselves with two years' probation while reducing their training time in the future, and the NCAA agreed that as pretty much enough.
West Virginia will file its official response to the NCAA on Nov. 19 and is scheduled to meet with the infractions committee. As long as the Mountaineers show the proper remorse the NCAA demands in these situations, they should come out no worse for the wear than Michigan. And that should help Stewart, who's already under fire for the Mountaineers' 5-3 record and whose contract allows for him to be fired with cause if major violations occur on his watch.